Mental Health Professions in Connecticut unite in calling for telehealth to be made permanent with pay equity. In an excellent letter to the Governor, key Commissioners and Legislative leaders NASW/CT joined with other mental health providers to make a strong case for telehealth and fair payment.

June 22, 2020

The Honorable Joe Aresimowicz
Speaker of the House of Representatives

The Honorable Matt Ritter
House Majority Leader

The Honorable Themis Klarides
House Minority Leader

The Honorable Martin Looney
Senate President Pro Tempore

The Honorable Bob Duff
Senate Majority Leader

The Honorable Len Fasano
Senate Minority Leader

Connecticut General Assembly Legislative Office Building
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Sent via Email

Dear Speaker Aresimowicz, Majority Leader Ritter, Minority Leader Klarides, Senate President Looney, Majority Leader Duff and Minority Leader Fasano:

As the state’s mental health care provider community, we are writing to request that you pass legislation to codify the tele-health provisions implemented in the Governor’s Executive Orders for behavioral health care in the wake of the public health crisis with the emergence of the COVID-19 virus.

The virus and the declaration of the public health emergency by Governor Lamont has greatly altered the state’s mental health care system. As you consider policies to implement in statute when you convene a special session, we ask that you codify the use of tele-health for behavioral health in the public and private insurance markets included in the Governor’s Executive Orders 7G, 7F, 7DD. We request payment parity for tele-health visits at the same rate if the services were delivered in-person. We also request that you specifically include the telephonic-only provision within covered behavioral health tele-health services.

Tele-health has become a very important tool for mental health providers during the declared public health emergency. It has been used to continue to provide access to care for patients and engage new patients who have not received care in the past, many of which are new enrollees to the Medicaid program. In particular, the telephonic-only tele-health provision has been critical to many patients in the Medicaid population who do not possess the technology for a video encounter but who need access to behavioral health services. Tele-health is an important tool that should be extended as we anticipate an increase enrollment in the Husky program as a result of the economic crisis caused by the crisis and stay at home order.

We anticipate a tsunami wave of Connecticut residents who will need to access behavioral health services in the wake of the public health crisis. These individuals include health care providers and workers who have been caring for COVID-19 positive patients, individuals diagnosed with the disease and their family members as well as family members who have lost a loved-one from the disease. We have also seen an increased need from existing patients who have experience heightened anxiety and other symptoms of their disease as a result of living through this crisis.

Mental health providers are needed now more than ever. Yet the public health emergency and stay at home order have devastated many of our members who are small business owners. Prior to the Executive Orders providing coverage for tele- health services our members saw a dramatic drop in revenue because of cancelled or missed appointments. Telehealth is an important tool for our patients and our livelihoods as the mental health care delivery system adapts to the public health crisis.

In addition to expanding the use of tele-health including the telephonic-only provision as a covered service in the private insurance market with payment parity, we ask that you allow mental health providers to use any HIPAA compliant platform. During this crisis we have experienced some insurance carriers requiring the use of a specific platform when seeking reimbursement for services. Many of our members had already invested in various HIPAA compliant platforms and our patient population is as diverse as their insurance coverage and carrier. Requiring providers to use a carrier-specific platform places an undue burden on our members.

Thank you for your time and attention to these important matters. We urge you to: pass legislation that would allow tele-health to be a covered behavioral health service under the State’s Medicaid program and private insurance; include telephonic-only tele-health as a covered behavioral health service; require payment parity for mental health providers and allow the use of any HIPAA compliant platform by mental health providers in Connecticut.


Rebecca Ruitto, LMFT, CTAMFT
Connecticut Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

Jessica Nelson, PhD, LMFT
Advocacy Chair
Connecticut Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

Julie Yale
Connecticut Counseling Association

Karla Troesser
Executive Director
Connecticut Counseling Association

Paul Rao, MD
Connecticut Council of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Jacqueline Coleman
Executive Director
Connecticut Psychiatric Association

Anne Klee, PhD.
Connecticut Psychological Association

Marcy Kane, PhD.
Legislative Chair
Connecticut Psychological Association

Stephen A. Wanczyk-Karp
Executive Director
National Association of Social Workers, Connecticut Chapter

Cc:     Representative Cathy Abercrombie, House Chair, Human Services Committee Senator Marilyn Moore, Senate Chair, Human Services Committee
Representative Jay Case, Ranking Member, Human Services Committee
Senator George Logan, Ranking Member, Human Services Committee
Representative Jonathan Steinberg, House Chair, Public Health Committee
Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams, Senate Chair, Public Health Committee Representative Bill Petit, Ranking Member, Public Health Committee
Senator Heather Somers, Ranking Member, Public Health Committee
Representative Sean Scanlon, House Chair, Insurance Committee
Senator Matt Lesser, Senate Chair, Insurance Committee
Representative Cara Christine Pavalock-D’Amato, Ranking Member, Insurance
Senator Kevin Kelly, Ranking Member, Insurance Committee
Governor Ned Lamont
Deidre Gifford, MD, MPH, Commissioner, Department of Social Services, Acting Commissioner, Department of Public Health
Andrew Mais, Commissioner, Department of Insurance
Mathew Brokman, Office of the Speaker of the House
Franklin Perry, Office of the House Majority Leader
Ricky Baltimore, Office of the House Majority Leader
Jennifer Sienna, Office of the House Minority Leader
Vinnie Mauro, Office of the Senate President
Courtney Cullinan, Office of the Senate President
Chris Fletcher, Office of the Senate Minority Leader


  1. Jacqueline McNamee says

    Please consider allowing this, during these times therapy is of utmost importance to those who are struggling with mental illness. May times individuals are unable to obtain transportation to and from therapy sessions. I have been utilizing Telehealth for many months now and clients are benefiting and it has proven to be a successful form of therapy. I am working hard and sometimes harder and believe my pay should be the same.
    Thank you,
    Jacqueline McNamee

    • I agree with Jacqueline McNamee and with the letter about making telehealth permanent and payments from commercial health insurance companies fair. They have not raised the fees for LCSWs since 1996. Their executives are overpaid.
      Thank you for the advocacy

  2. Rebecca Ramos says

    Hello, I would agree during these uncertain and frightening times it has been such as relief to offer all Clients access to treatment. Some clients have autoimmune, or are too scared to come out of the house. Or leaving the house is more worrisome, since they take public transportation or live in apartment building. Continuing to give all clients the privilege of telehealth has improved so many of my clients Mental Health. prior to COVID-19 I was the provider who never sought telehealth as beneficial, as I knew its benefits for certain clients, however in my core beliefs, I believed in only face to face therapy. However COVID-19 has changed my perception completely. There were so many times at the beginning of COVID-19, when I had to just sit in a virtual room with a client to provide them the unconditional support they needed as they lost there job, struggling with teaching there children, and dealing with drug/alcohol triggers. This executive order allowed me to do my best work, in one of our countries worst experiences. I have been grateful for all insurance carriers following this order, as it should not just be for the rich and famous, the majority of my caseload is Huskey-and allowing them privilege showed the compassion for all people within our state.

    Thank you,

  3. Susan Holms LCSW says

    I commend the above Associations in their advocacy on behalf of clients and their professional members. Telehealth has been a significant tool in the delivery of care during this pandemic. The radical changes due to COVID_19 have had tremendous social and emotional impact and the delivery of accessible mental health care has been essential to the public.
    Clients have benefited greatly with available telehealth and our ability as health care professionals to provide continuity of care is of utmost importance at this time and in the future.
    I support the passage of legislation that will codify telehealth for both Medicaid and privately insured individuals and families.

  4. I’m writing as a concerned citizen, a facilitator and the Executive Director of an organization that is growing and soon providing services to people affected by substance use disorders and mental health conditions. The option of tele-health sessions have become a life line for many during these unprecedented times in our state. I am making the request for consideration to codify the use of tele-health for behavioral health in the public and private insurance markets and also the inclusion of the telephonic-only provision within covered behavioral health tele-health services.
    TriCircle, Inc. is the organization I have the honor and privilege to work for. We have eleven different support groups in the state, all of which are grant funded and all meetings are cofacilitated by two paid professionals now working off our Zoom platform.These are free support groups so insurance and HIPPA compliance are not issue. We immediately transitioned The Hope & Support and Hope After Loss Groups to online platform starting on March 26th. This transition made these resources available state wide throughout the quarantine. Safety, availability, flexibility, and connection are even more crucial in these challenging times. We subcontract to seven licensed professionals. Many of these professionals also work in private practice and in agencies that have seen a great increase in needed services.
    TriCircle, Inc. will be opening our own clinical practice soon. We have contracts with several insurance providers and anticipate signing additional contracts in the near future. Of course we will employ HIPPA compliant platforms as we begin to provide treatment for substance use disorders and mental health conditions. Tele-health will be an imperative option for us and to those we serve going forward. The COVID19 pandemic is not over. The safe, and accessible services and treatment options available will greatly determine the impact, affects and follow up that we will need to bounce back.

  5. Igor espittia says

    Greetings , I am In Gratitude to the NASW and the authors of this letter in their efforts to bring this critical issue to
    The attention of the legislative leadership in our state. As an independent provider , I echo all the concerns mentioned.
    As independent providers We have had to live through a dramatic reconfiguring of our practices , almost over nite ,in order to maintain services at at critical time for our society, our clients and ourselves.
    It has been no small task personally or professionally. In many cases serving as first responders to help mitigate the risks and threats from the Covid virus from growing into greater fear, panic ,despair , hospitalizations. All the while concerned about our own ability to financially provide for ourselves and our families. Indeed , I’ve worked harder with less recognition or compensation that I ever had. I sincerely hope , the legislative leadership can recognize our contribution to the well being of our society by supporting parity and permanence, specially because it’s unlikely our compensation would change by insurance industry alone. Thank you !

  6. COVID-19 will be with us for at least a year, with COVID and flu season a deadly combination. In order to get to my office, my clients are risking exposure, illness, and potential their lives. As a therapist, I also risk my health to meet my clients face to face.
    If my clients were to come to my office, the anxiety they experience would get in the way of their doing the work they came to me for.
    Please consider making the option of telehealth permanent, with parity with face to face counseling, with the insurance companies.
    Thank you,
    Sandy Berenbaum, LCSW
    Middletown, CT


  1. dab tornado ti

    Mental Health Professions in Connecticut unite in calling for telehealth to be made permanent with pay equity. In an excellent letter to the Governor, key Commissioners and Legislative leaders NASW/CT joined with other mental health providers to make a…

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